Former Steelers LB James Harrison Retires

Former Steelers great James Harrison is calling it a career. The linebacker, who most recently suited up for the Patriots, announced on Instagram that he is retiring from football. 

Of course, we’ve been down this road before with Harrison. The linebacker also “retired” in 2014, only to return months later and play for another four seasons. This time, his announcement comes with the hashtag “#2ndAndFinalRetirement.” Harrison cites his family as the primary reason for his retirement, stating that he has “missed way too much for way too long.”

Earlier this month, Harrison indicated that he would wait until after the draft to sign with a team. It’s possible that the veteran, who will turn 40 in May, didn’t find the kind of interest that he was expecting.

Harrison leaves the game after a remarkable 17-season career. After going undrafted in 2002, the undersized linebacker hooked on with the Steelers and spent the bulk of his first two seasons on and off their practice squad. In between stints with Pittsburgh, he also spent time with the Ravens and the Rhein Fire of the NFL Europe.

Over time, Harrison developed into a key player for the Steelers, but it was not until 2007 that he became a full-fledged starter. In that season, he earned his first of five Pro Bowl appearances. The veteran would go on to win two Super Bowls with the Steelers as the anchor of their defense and secure two First-Team All-Pro nods.

Harrison spent the vast majority of his career in black and yellow, but also suited up for the Bengals in 2013 and wrapped up his career with the Patriots in 2017 when he was surprisingly cut late in the season by Pittsburgh.

We here at PFR wish Harrison the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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13 comments on “Former Steelers LB James Harrison Retires

  1. madmanTX

    For all he did as a Steeler, I wish James Harrison a happy and healthy retirement.

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    • connfyoozed

      I second that. I hope that most fans will remember him for his great play and not for his departure from Pittsburgh last season. He was truly a great player who made himself great: it took a ton of hard work for him to go from barely making it on practice squads to being an All-Pro.

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      • crosseyedlemon

        I don’t think other players could watch James and not be inspired to improve their own skills.

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  2. itslonelyatthetrop

    Never cared for him. But you can’t argue with his success for an undrafted player. Happy & healthy trails to him.

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  3. Julio Franco's Birth Certificate

    I’m curious if people think he has HOF credentials. I’m split – he was a beast for several years, by far the best defensive player in the league for probably 3 or 4 seasons, but only “good” for many more. Do those couple of great seasons plus his longevity in the league qualify him for the Hall?

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    • crosseyedlemon

      The day fan voting was approved is the day the HOF took it’s first step towards being irrelevant.

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      • itslonelyatthetrop

        I’m not thrilled with the current voting system for the HOF. If fans vote, it becomes American Idol.

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    • itslonelyatthetrop

      No. He’s not a HOF’er. Compare the numbers to his contemporaries like Ware and Peppers; both are future HOF’ers, and their numbers are better than Harrison’s. I liked Joey Porter a lot more than Harrison and I put them roughly in the same tier as fine players, good Steelers, but not HOF’ers.

      I just want him to not suffer from CTE and have a full life post career. Too many players having their brains turn into mush.

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      • crosseyedlemon

        The problem with the number comparing is that it becomes an almost useless metric if you are looking at players who were separated by 2 or more decades. The game is always evolving so you end up comparing apples with oranges. To me the most important consideration should always be “passion” which is evident in every era.
        I have a special fondness for those 50s players who wore one chin bar on their helmet, played both offense and defense and earned each season about what Roger Goodell spends in cab fair each week. Those guys had a real passion for the game.

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      • padam

        If Kevin Greene is in the HOF, then Harrison belongs as well. Plus, JH had a couple of rings, too.

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    • 2012orioles

      I think he’ll get in. Kurt Warner was sort of in the same boat. He is a QB vs a LB but it seems that if you were great for any period of time and had a memorable career, you are a hofer

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  4. Polish Hammer

    Ware and Peppers didn’t exactly have the same role on D as Harrison. That said, he had an incredible, a totally self made man that persevered just to make a roster and then his hunger led him to excel. Odd to think he’s only the second best Kent State LB to play for Pittsburgh.

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    • itslonelyatthetrop

      Referring to Jack Lambert, yes. Very true.

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